Spurs press on with stadium challenge

Updated: 
Main gate at Spurs' White Hart Lane groundTottenham Hotspur are to be pressing on with the legal bid challenging the award of the Olympic Stadium to West Ham despite widespread rumours last night that the club was about to drop the bid. The BBC reported that the club was "on the verge" of dropping the bid after talks with London's Mayor.

I understand that the BBC and other journalists were told by trusted sources that the club and London Mayor Boris Johnson had reached a deal which would enable Spurs to build the long-planned new stadium in Tottenham, and in so doing kick-start regeneration in the area.

That optimism also extended to political circles, with local MP David Lammy tweeting this morning "New White Hart Lane more likely than ever now. Good news for Spurs fans and Tottenham residents." The news also caused considerable optimistic excitement on Spurs fan message boards.

West Ham and Newham

But those hopes appear to have been premature as the hearing is currently underway in the High Court. Spurs are arguing that the state aid West Ham got from Newham Council while at the same time seeking help from the mayor was illegal.

The club's argument centres on the £40m loan Newham gave to West Ham. This, say Spurs, amounted to state aid and was therefore illegal under EU law. The judge has said the Spurs case has some merit and has referred to "confusion" in the Newham case.

It's long been suspected that Tottenham's legal challenge is really aimed at getting costs reimbursed rather than constituting a serious challenge to take possession of the Olympic Stadium in Stratford. The judge's view that the challenge has "merit" suggests that the club may get its costs at least.

Mayor Boris Johnson

Reliable sources confirm the club was in talks with Mayor Johnson last night, but it would seem no resolution satisfactory to all parties was reached. This is a high stakes game and it would seem negotiations are continuing with each side waiting for the other to blink.

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has a reputation for taking negotiations to the wire. The club have long argued for a 'balance' of public and private contribution to the stadium project because of the high costs associated with it and the potential for local area regeneration.

What's dramatically changed in the last few months is the rioting which focussed thinking on the need to revitalise an area that has been neglected for over 20 years. There is pressure on the Mayor and the government to act, plus pressure to resolve the row over the Olympic Stadium before the run-up to the games begins in earnest. Judgement is expected later today.

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